Spring Report Card: Defensive Backs

How has the secondary looked during the spring? Have any new players stepped up, or will the same faces be the dominant players for another year? Aggie Websider's Taylor Freeman grades the defensive backfield.

After ranking 105th last year in pass yards per game, it seems that the only direction the secondary can go is up. Luckily, the Aggies' secondary does not have to deal with what almost every other unit does – a lack of returning impact players.

A&M loses only Marquis Carpenter from its starting rotation, and should benefit greatly from the extra year of experience for all members involved. The changes, then, revolve around position moves; with players being switched to places they can more effectively help the team.

The two main position changes in the secondary are Jordan Peterson to free safety and Jordan Pugh back to his natural corner. For Peterson, this move seems ideal since he was at times picked on at the corner position, and at safety he can use his excellent awareness to hunt down the ball rather than be focusing on a man.

Pugh's move however is the one that should bring the best immediate results to the team. With Danny Gorrer sidelined for the spring, Pugh has had the opportunity to start, and has made the most of his snaps. Only a sophomore, he is already emerging as a leader in the secondary and has made the argument for why he should start in the fall.

Another semi position change is Jonathan Batson swapping between free safety and corner. His speed and agility give him the ability to play both positions, and his utility role will prove invaluable to help the severe depth issues this team faces.

At strong safety, another battle for the starting job is emerging between Devin Gregg and Chevar Bryson. Both players have played with the first team and made some nice plays in that role, particularly in run coverage. If they can fill holes like they did in the spring it gives the defense basically another linebacker to stop the run in its tracks.

Projected Starters:

CB: Danny Gorrer
Analysis:
While Danny has been hurt all spring, his skill set and experience should be enough to earn him the starting role for the fall. He has snuck on the field during some drills until a coach sees him, and has looked very sharp in those few reps.

SS: Devin Gregg
Analysis:
Devin also provides leadership and experience to this secondary unit. While he can deliver a lick well, he is sometimes overzealous about reading a run and can lose his man in coverage after a couple of steps.

FS: Jordan Peterson
Analysis:
Jordan's move to free safety will be interesting to chart through the season. He was known at corner for his ability to make big tackles, and that should be a huge asset at the position of the last line of defense.

CB: Jordan Pugh
Analysis:
Pugh's name has been thrown around a lot by the staff this spring, normally separating "there you go…" from "great job". He is developing extremely fast at the position and looks to have the best footwork of any corner we have.

The Best of the Rest:

CB: Arkeith Brown
Analysis:
The third wheel corner last year could be filling the same role for another fall. Arkeith has given up some big plays against receivers, particularly on streaks, but he has also batted down his share of balls. If he can limit the big plays, or if Gorrer does not come back 100% he should get the opportunity to start, but for now I expect him to get minutes off the bench.

SS: Chevar Bryson
Analysis:
In my opinion, Chevar has had a more impressive spring that Devin Gregg. He has made big stops not only in the running game but has also intercepted a couple of passes, and seems to be present wherever the ball is. He could definitely challenge Gregg for the starting role.

FS: Kenny Brown
Analysis:
Before being held out of some of the latest practices, Kenny was having a great spring. Brown looks very physically mature out there for such a young player, and is a natural at predicting the throw from the QB.

Darkhorse:

CB: Marcus Gold
Analysis:
This very undersized corner is a candidate for the 12th man jersey this year, and is also a candidate for the starting job as the nickel back when A&M rolls into their 3-3-5 set. He is cat quick for the first 10 yards and breaks well onto any out or slant. His size prevents him from covering deep well, but he could be a name you do not recognize playing on Saturdays.

Taylor's grade for the defensive backs: B-




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